D.C. United news & notes

January 28, 2013

D.C. United has promoted two executives to oversee the front office and decided not to fill the titles held by Kevin Payne for 17 seasons.

Michael Williamson, the club’s chief financial officer since 2007, added the position of chief operating officer and will run the business side. Doug Hicks, a communications and marketing executive at United for 12 years, was named chief marketing officer and will oversee communications, promotions and branding.

Payne was United’s president and chief executive officer since the club’s inception in 1996. With United under new management, Payne and longtime deputy Stephen Zack were forced out in the fall. Payne is now Toronto FC’s president and general manager.

United also hired Mike Schoenbrun to handle business development and partnerships. He had been associate publisher of Foreign Policy, a news magazine and Web site owned by The Washington Post.

“We are entering a dynamic period in the organization’s history,” general partner Jason Levien said in a written statement. “Michael, Doug and Mike have unique and broad bases of experience and I’m confident they will effectively lead the club’s business efforts and enhance its trajectory.”

United’s front office has undergone considerable change since Levien partnered with Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir last summer and joined Will Chang on the club’s investment team. Aside from Payne and Zack, a senior vice president since the inaugural season, several employees in ticketing, marketing and communications were dismissed.

Levien’s primary aim is to finalize a stadium project at Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington, blocks from Nationals Park. With Thohir’s financial wherewithal, the prospects of a new facility have brightened. However, the club has yet to reach a deal with the city, land owners and developers.

United is the only MLS team housed at the same facility since 1996 (RFK Stadium). Most clubs play in new or renovated venues. (The New England Revolution has played in Foxborough, Mass., every year but moved into Gillette Stadium with the NFL’s Patriots in 2002.)

*Brazilian midfielder Raphael Augusto arrived in Washington on Monday for a medical exam and might join the team in Florida this week, General Manager Dave Kasper said. United had extended his loan from Fluminense and was awaiting visa approval. Augusto, 21, was acquired late last season and made two playoff appearances.

Brazilian forward Rafael, acquired on loan from Bahia this month, joined United at training camp in Bradenton last week.

United will face Swedish club Malmo in a friendly Friday morning in Bradenton. It’s unclear whether the club will make any roster cuts before the match.

*Former United midfielder Branko Boskovic, who returned to Rapid Vienna this month after 2 1/2 years in MLS, told the Austrian club’s Web site: “Major League Soccer is a very young league, which certainly has a promising future ahead of them, as more young, good players come of it. The people there are oriented mainly to the English league … Bottom line, it was a very informative, good time. I especially want to thank D.C. United, who have helped me in my torn ACL and supported me. Still it is very far away from home [Montenegro] and I thought a lot about my family and friends, so I wanted to go back. And ‘back’ is easily connected with Rapid.”

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · January 28, 2013

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